Sport & Culture

Lance Armstrong’s Puzzling Confession

Recent Features

Sport & Culture

Lance Armstrong’s Puzzling Confession

Lance Armstrong, as expected, confessed to Oprah Winfrey. Many feel his confession did not go far enough.

It may not still be the case, but a few years ago anyone could wander into Seoul’s Olympic Stadium and stand on the track where Ben Johnson finished first in the 100 meters — one of the most infamous moments in Olympic history.

The Canadian sprinter was soon found to have taken illegal performance-enhancing substances and stripped of his gold medal three days later. It was a huge story. One can only imagine what the reaction would have been on social media if the likes of Twitter and Facebook had been around a quarter of a century ago.

Perhaps it would have been something like the Lance Armstrong scandal. The American cyclist appeared on television last week for an eagerly-awaited and heavily-watched interview with Oprah Winfrey.

He admitted that he cheated during his career. But the reaction to the chat with the former queen of daytime television has not been especially favorable. It made for engaging television, but viewers did not generally perceive Armstrong to be genuinely contrite about his actions and felt that his confession did not go far enough.

"He didn't name names. He didn't say who supplied him, what officials were involved," World Anti Doping Agency President John Fahey told the Associated Press on Friday.

"My feeling after watching the interview is that he indicated that he probably would not have gotten caught if he hadn't returned to the sport," Fahey explained. "If he was looking for redemption, he didn't succeed in getting that."

Former French professional cyclist Christophe Bassons has crossed swords with Armstrong in the past and also wasn’t impressed.

"He didn't let any sentiment show, even when he spoke of regrets. Well, that's Lance Armstrong," Bassons told the AP. "There's always a portion of lies in what he says, in my opinion. He's not totally honest even in his so-called confession. I think he admits some of it to avoid saying the rest."

Only the Texan himself knows whether that is true or not. What everyone knows is that he has been stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles and all of his results since 1998 have been disqualified.

His bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Olympics has been revoked by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and he has been told to return the medal as well.

"Having had confirmation from UCI [International Cycling Union] that Armstrong has not appealed the decision to disqualify him from Sydney, we have written to him to ask for the return of the bronze medal," International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams told AP.

Johnson’s gold was given to Carl Lewis though it helped that the scandal broke while the Olympics was still ongoing. However, the IOC is not going to reallocate the bronze from 2000 won by Armstrong in the road time trial behind Russia’s Vyacheslav Ekimov and Jan Ulrich of Germany.

The Sunday Times wants a return of the money it had to pay Armstrong in 2006 after accusing him of cheating along with interest and legal fees.

“Lance Armstrong is probably the most egregious drugs cheat in the history of sport,” the newspaper said in its editorial. “Now he is the hero who has sunk to somewhere below zero, exposed by his own admission of cheating. This newspaper’s David Walsh, with his dogged journalism, has been on Armstrong’s case for years.”

Armstrong has been banned from competing for life but said that he does not deserve the ‘death penalty.’

"It's what I've done my whole life. I love to train. I love to race. I love to toe the line…," Armstrong said. "Not the Tour de France, but there's a lot of other things I could do…"

"I made my bed," he said. "But if there was ever a window, would I like to run the Chicago Marathon when I'm 50? I would love to do that."

That is unlikely.